Thursday, September 25, 2008

Forever and a day...

GoLibrary final grant report will be turned in tomorrow. Stage one completed, we now move on to getting it right in the wash. Problems continue with no solution in sight, though we do have a meeting set up with Sweden next week. Maybe we will get a little closer to our service goals now that some of the deadline pressure is off.
On another note, a recent conference in Sacramento hosted by the Association for Small & Rural Libraries has me thinking about the social networking phenomenon in libraries and how we get there from here. I heard a funny joke once about a New Englander giving directions and the punch line was "You can't get there from here." The line stays with me, though I have long forgotten the joke, and puts me in mind of local government IT departments and libraries as we try to break through to the otherside of IAAM (it's all about me) services.
At the Sacramento ASRL conference last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by blogger, Jessamyn West, and asked her at the end if she could recommend sources for selling points for social networking to local governments. She suggested a best practices wiki that I had heard of but was not really familiar with. I had no idea that there would be so much good stuff at my beck and call. I've been going through the wiki a little bit at a time, instead of jumping right into an answer to my IT question, and I keep getting distracted by things to learn about and explore.
If there are any librarians out there who still question the validity of wikis as sources of information, they must immediately check out (ha!) this site.
Anyway, where was I, regarding the IT dilemma and social networking. We have recently upgraded our web site at my library (though it has only a portion of the changes I had hoped to include, it's still better than it was. Oh, yeah, and there are errors as well, so your continued patience is requested.) So, I had planned to join the social networking phenomenon and post this blog on our web page as the director's blog. I was motivated especially due to the need to promote our GoLibrary grant progress. (See previous posts.)
I discover indirectly, as no one has contacted me directly about the matter, that I was revealing too much information regarding the county's network and could be exposing us to hackers. OK, I thought, I'll take those bits out, no problem. But now the word is that we must take the matter to county counsel because of the no advertisements rule. Fine, is my response. But, actually, if we are going to go that route, we need to first take it to the Technology Review Committee for recommendation. By the time we get the go ahead, libraries will no doubt be heralding Web 3.0 and the blog will be obsolete.
So, I'll keep making notes of my progress on the front lines of introducing new and untried means of informing the community, whether of librarians or library users, and be satisfied that the process of jotting it down serves as a means of letting off steam if nothing else.

Monday, September 22, 2008

GoLibrary Grant Deadline

As the end date for our GoLibrary grant approaches, I have had an opportunity to slow down enough to evaluate our current state of chaos. We have continued to have communication difficulties, which translate as technical difficulties "please stay tuned" for overall evaluation. As I was composing an email to our contact in Sweden as my last act of another jam-packed day, I got into a discussion with my fellow project implementer about how we can get some results on the ongoing problems we're having.
Ultimately, I came up with the following conclusion: we're all going too fast. Every person on the project has a mind that works faster than the norm and we're all under deadline, so we're going even faster than our normal rapid clip. Consequently, we communicate in fits and starts and often in frustration and exhaustion. As an obvious result, we are not being clear and concise like good librarians should be. We haven't organized, numbered and classified like we might have had under more sedate circumstances.
The categories we have come up with are simple: ongoing, new and old problems.
We'll assign numbers to each and refer to them in communications so that we can all be relatively certain we are talking about the same thing.
We have been keeping a spreadsheet with an account on dates the machine has been down and reasons or error messages documented to the best of our abilities.
But we had not taken a deep breath and had not broken each problem into specific steps (in writing) about what happens with each occurence. We are now doing this with ongoing and new problems.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Regardless of distance or language, I think we are finally going to get some results based on this new procedure for documenting succinctly and comprehensively.
I kind of see this as a foreshadowing of what will be in the future of libraries.
We will have translation software (see Second Life) and gadgets galore, socially networks will become an integral part of our personality so that we are "mental hives" more than worker bees.
And I can learn from my own mistakes and yours as well or at least refine my mistake making abilities, if nothing else.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Net 2.0 Training Link

If you're interested in what librarians are talking about when we talk about Library 2.0, Net2.0 or Web2.0, i.e., social networking, here's everything you ever wanted to know (and more) in one self-training spot.

Not yet ready for prime time...

"If it's not one thing...," according to Roseanne Roseanna Danna, we would be rolling in clover. We have the machine installed, the network works, books are in their plastic boxes, special promotional library cards have been ordered, the sign has been designed and the community is chomping at the bit. But we still have a few kinks to work out. Right now, we are stymied by the RFID reader, which worked perfectly well until we had to relocate the admin PC onsite in order to have it on the same network as the machine. According to our Distec technician, we are supposed to be able to remote in to the admin computer from the library via PCAnywhere in order to "marry" the books with the RFID tags. But, so far that's not happening. We've involved County IT staff who says it may be a language formatting problem. I continue to work at keeping lines of communication open between the experts and am confident that by the time I get back from ALA next week, they will have solved all the problems without me. Or, we might be right where we left off, but long as we're not going backwards "IT's PROGRESS!"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bokomaten GoLibrary ARRIVED!

Pictures will follow, but for now...
All I can say is Whew.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Campbell's Can and a String

I can't decide if the better analogy is a soup can and a string or the "telephone gossip game" for the level of communication that is going on these days. The Bokomaten is shipping tonight, says Distec in Sweden, No, says our IT security person who has just spoken with the Distec contact in Italy where the machines are being built and shipped, It's not shipping this week. It's going to go through customs in New York, says the customs official who was tracking a smaller parcel (our RFID reader) that shipped earlier. It's going through Washington Dulles and then customs in San Francisco, says Distec. I'm thinking things have to go through customs at port of entry, but whatever, as long as it's coming. Our admin services asst. director says They're cutting the hole in the building tomorrow (Thursday, today) so it can be installed because it's the most convenient day for the contractor. No, it's being installed next Thursday, according to admin services staff.

We're not getting the boxes that the books have to go in until the machines arrive. (Everything is being shipped together.) We did receive the RFID tags on Monday so we'll be tagging the books as soon as staff can fit this into to their already overloaded schedules. (We're short one of our 10 staff members due to catastrophic sick leave. She's fine BTW, and will be back Monday.)

So the books still have to be downloaded into the machine somehow via a SIP2 connection with SIRSI that we've paid for with our migration to SIRSI.NET that we started in January, especially to be able to make this thing work most efficiently. (We had been in a compromising position of piggybacking on the local college's server since 2001.) But we've never used SIP2 and Distec hasn't used SIP2 in the States yet though they have the 2nd party agreement in place. (That was an interesting exercise in communicating all on it's own, sort of like the one just described but with Sweden and SIRSI and us in the middle.)

Anyway, we're down to the wire now. GoLibrary bokomaten is due to arrive sometime between now and next week (hopefully) and budget is due tomorrow (BOS presentation next week.) 3rd quarter LSTA grant report for the machine is due end of the month. Oh yeah, and I should also mention our HR department has finally worked us into their schedule of doing job analyses for the entire staff.

If anyone reads this other than another librarian, they are probably thinking, She must be nuts... but someone in the biz is more likely to think, So what else is new...a day in the life. And they will realize simultaneously that I'm likely just hitting the high points of next week's schedule. On one hand it makes me think we're ALL crazy, and on the other hand it makes me feel all warm and gooey inside to know that our professional tag line could easily read "Multi-taskers Are Us."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Learning Curves, Bumps & Rolls

Long time no post, but that is as expected given the workload these days. Our project is moving forward with many delays and cross-communications. Everyone is sick of the talking and planning phase and wants to see this machine in action. Unfortunately, we still have a long and winding road.

Because Yuba County's unit will be a built-in we have had to go through the bid process with a contractor in order to make modifications to the building, i.e., cutting a hole in the wall. IT has coordinated the installation of high speed cable for internet access to Distec, and our administrative computer here in house.

One of the most confusing pieces to date for me has been the RFID tags since I've never been in a library that utilizes this technology. I've been getting some help from Contra Costa County Library on what to expect. I love the way librarians like to help each other learn. We want to share what we know with anyone willing to take us on. This is the reason a project like this is do-able for a small library like ours. Going from mechanical drawings such as those provided by the vendor to a finished product, such as the one above, may have resulted in a few bruises to the ego every time I've had to admit my ignorance, but every time I ask one of those stupid questions, there has been someone with the patience to explain it and explain it ad nauseum if necessary.

That's why I'm doing this blog: Any one who can benefit from my bumps and rolls is welcome to a boost around that circuitous learning curve.